According to the research findings of a professor from the Fox School, business ownership doesn’t always equate to entrepreneurship.
Dr. Kevin J. Fandl, assistant professor in the Department of Legal Studies in Business, and his coauthor, Juana Paola Bustamante of the International Finance Corporation, analyzed a law passed in 2010 in Colombia to assess the impact of business streamlining laws on small, gray market firms. The law aimed to convince owners of gray market or legally non-compliant firms to become part of the formal marketplace, which entails steps such as acquiring licenses, registering with the local chamber of commerce, complying with labor laws, and paying taxes.
They found that a majority of business owners in Colombia had no interest in becoming entrepreneurs and scaling their firms. Instead, they preferred to operate within informal markets as a means of generating enough capital to support their cost of living, and not much more. In fact, in most cases, these firms utilized informality as a market advantage, securing economic advantages by avoiding the very things that make firms formal, like taxes and labor costs. Fandl’s research paper, “Incentivizing Gray Market Entrepreneurs in Emerging Markets,” was published in Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business, the world’s top-ranked international trade law journal, according to Washington & Lee.
Colombia’s 2010 formalization law, Fandl explained, was an attempt by the country to streamline the process through which businesses registered with the government. The law offered these “shadow” businesses a transition period during which they would pay no taxes, registration fees, or contributions to the government for the social security and health of their employees. The costs eventually would be phased in, according to the law, allowing businesses to be more successful in the immediate term and contribute to employee benefits at a later date. But this approach was based on an economic theory that high costs are the principal barrier to business formalization, a theory that Fandl appears to debunk in some cases.
Fandl’s study explored the level of informality exhibited within Colombian firms and found practically no significant change before or after the law was enacted. While some larger firms used the law as an opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of formal operations at virtually no additional cost, most small firms targeted by the law chose to stay informal.
“The World Bank and a number of other institutions have studied this, and economists have generally concluded that firms operate informally as gray market firms, because it is too difficult or too expensive to formalize their operations,” says Fandl, who added that roughly 50 percent of firms in Latin America qualify as gray market firms. “It’s a huge problem, because, in essence, these firms are engaging in anti-competitive behavior that undercuts the formal market and allows them to lower their overhead costs, giving them an unfair advantage.”
Prior studies in this area relied heavily on anecdotal evidence, according to Fandl, and found that bureaucracy and escalating costs were cited as reasons for holding back owners of gray market firms, providing them with no incentives for registering their businesses. Fandl’s research, however, revealed the opposite.
“We found that while a few use the informal economy as a means to build businesses in a cost-effective manner, the majority of small firms operate informally only to accrue basic income. These inefficient firms are what we call ‘survivalist firms,'” he says. “They operate their firms to maintain a basic standard of living, and without the desire to become a successful entrepreneur.”
Since passing its 2010 law, Colombia and its Ministry of Commerce have developed pilot programs to educate the owners of these firms to become more entrepreneurial, teaching basic business skills such as accounting and management, helping them differentiate between strong and weak markets, offering mentorship, and providing collaborative opportunities with other survivalist firms. These efforts, Fandl says, are intended to find and spark the entrepreneurial spirit the Colombian government believes lies within some of these firm owners.
Fandl’s study concludes that there’s no single solution to Colombia’s efforts to legitimize its informal marketplace. The nation struggles to combat a high unemployment rate, which prompts its people to seek work and find a living any way possible, even if that means doing so by operating a gray market firm.
“’Forced entrepreneurship’ is the term we use in our paper, and until the unemployment crisis is addressed, this issue will not have a solution,” says Fandl, who adds that follow-up studies in this area are ongoing.
This story originally appeared in On the Verge, the Fox School’s research magazine.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
Concussions have forever altered the sports landscape, calling attention to an injury that is difficult to diagnose and spawning a major motion picture.
Samuel D. Hodge, LAW ’74, professor at the Fox School, has co-authored a book that approaches head trauma and brain injuries, including concussions, from the perspective of the insurance, legal, and medical fields. His book, Head Trauma and Brain Injury for Lawyers, is the latest in a series of medical-legal guides he has penned for the American Bar Association. He’s written others spanning anatomy, the spine, and forensic autopsies.
“We used to assume that boxers were just ‘punch drunk,’ or that a football player ‘got his bell rung,’ but now, obviously, we know better,” says Hodge.
While the book delves into head trauma and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), Hodge says he and co-author Jack E. Hubbard, professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota’s School of Medicine, took a broader approach. The book covers basic anatomy of the brain and its functions, explains the neurological system, and demonstrates how to understand and interpret diagnostic tests for this area of the body.
“What makes the book so interesting and its breadth so wide is that we have chapters on head injuries sustained in military combat, sports, third-party lawsuits, social security disability, and workers’ compensation,” Hodge explains. “Our approach, from both a medical and legal perspective, should make this the seminal book on this subject—not only for medical and legal professionals, but also for those in the insurance industry.”
TBIs contribute to roughly 30 percent of all injury deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In his research, Hodge found that TBIs were the most common injury incurred in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“On the surface, that is surprising,” he says. “But because our military personnel have full body armor, they’re protected from shrapnel in pretty much every other part of their bodies. But road landmines, explosions, and IEDs made concussions and other types of brain trauma the signature injury of the war.”
Concussion litigation has shaken the NFL, as former players file federal lawsuits against the league both for failure to acknowledge the lasting effects of brain-related injuries and to establish guidelines for the recognition and prevention of them. TBIs have been identified as a major cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a protein buildup that causes degeneration of the brain. The discovery of CTE, and the NFL’s initial refusal to address it, inspired Concussion, the award-winning film starring Will Smith.
Robert C. Cantu, clinical professor of neurosurgery at Boston University, who previously has urged the NFL to embrace medical findings pertaining to concussions and CTE, authored a chapter in Hodge’s book.
“Concussions aren’t simply a timely topic that will go away. People still lack a fundamental understanding of their effect on the brain,” Hodge says. “The contributions of Dr. Cantu and other leading experts to this book demonstrate the relevance of TBIs, concussions, and all head injuries today.”
This story originally appeared in On the Verge, the Fox School’s research magazine.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
Three Human Resource Management (HRM) professors from Temple University’s Fox School of Business recently co-authored a paper that was published in the December 2015 edition of the Journal of Employment Counseling. Dr. Tony Petrucci, Dr. Gary Blau, and Dr. John McClendon’s paper, titled, ‘’Effect of Age, Length of Unemployment, and Problem-Focused Coping on Positive Reemployment Expectations,” explores the impact of age, length of unemployment, and the coping behaviors on re-employment expectations during the great recession. Given the extreme nature of recession that began in 2008, every professional is inevitably vulnerable to the possibility of unemployment, the professors said. In President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, delivered Jan. 13, 2016, he noted current job creation and a decreasing unemployment rate in America. Despite this, Obama recommended programs train the unemployed on how to get back into the job force as a strong investment for America’s future.
While most studies have focused on lower-level workers and on short-term unemployment, Petrucci, Blau, and McClendon felt compelled to examine higher-level employees and managers, and long-term unemployment.The professors sampled unemployed professionals of all ages who maintained different position levels within organizations prior to their unemployment, including vice presidents, high-ranking executives, middle management, hourly workers, supervisors, and more. The sample contained 65 percent long-term unemployed professionals, including 23 percent being unemployed for more than two years.“Our study found that length of unemployment, networking comfort, and job-search confidence were significant in a regression and age was not,” said Petrucci, the lead author for the study. “Regardless of age, if you are comfortable networking and have confidence in your ability to conduct an effective job search, you may have higher expectations for re-employment.”Conversely, the professors discovered that the longer one is unemployed, the less confidence one may have about the process of finding a new job and the lower one’s expectations for re-employment may become.
“Becoming unemployed can be very difficult for many workers, especially if they have dependents or have high-paying jobs,” Blau said.Upper-level employees often find it challenging to find comparable positions in their respective fields. The professors were in agreement with President Obama, that programs should be put in place to teach employees how to build transferable skills set, beyond what an employing organization provides.“If (a company is) suddenly downsized, it will be easier for job-loss victims to successfully cope with their new job search,” Blau said. “Very few workers are immune from sudden job loss.”Though a long period of unemployment generally leads to a pessimistic attitude, Petrucci also noted that training workers to be more optimistic about re-employment tends to lead to higher rates of re-employment.
Given the low level of unemployment, the professors aren’t currently planning to pursue this line of research again soon. However, their findings greatly expanded the literature on unemployment given its extremely unique sample population.
Fox School of Business Professor Dr. Ram Mudambi and his team of researchers received a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to host the First International Business, Economic Geography and Innovation (iBEGIN) Conference at the Fox School. It was preceded by workshops in 2013 and 2014.
The two-day conference, held Nov. 13-14 at Fox’s Alter Hall, was sponsored by the NSF, with support from Temple’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) and the Fox School Institute for Global Management Studies. It was aimed, Mudambi said, toward using research from his team’s iBEGIN initiatives as the foundation for a long-lasting research community focused on the intersection of the three fields of international business, economic geography, and technology/innovation studies.
“In a very deep sense, all society is based upon human connections. We’re social animals,” said Mudambi, the Frank M. Speakman Professor of Strategic Management and Perelman Senior Research Fellow at Fox. “This conference applied that theory to the sphere, and business and economics. We developed the concept that the human experience is built on human socialization, and use it to understand how connections across space create value.”
The conference featured three keynote speakers, who addressed attendees Nov. 14 in an open-to-the-public setting. The keynotes included:
- Dr. John Cantwell, Rutgers University, Distinguished Professor of Management and Global Business, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Business Studies
- Dr. Harald Bathelt, University of Toronto, Canada Research Chair Professor in Innovation and Governance, and editor of Journal of Economic Geography
- Dr. Mark Lorenzen, Copenhagen Business School, Professor of Innovation and Organizational Economics, and Director of the Danish Research Unit of Industrial Dynamics (DRUID)
“These three keynote speakers have been great supporters of our iBEGIN work, and I could not have been more delighted to host them,” Mudambi said. “John is the editor of the top international business journal, Harald is the editor of the top economic geography journal, and Mark is the director of DRUID, one of the world’s largest research networks in innovation studies. To have them under one roof at one conference was a truly unique opportunity.”
The iBEGIN Conference is being promoted as part of GlobalPhilly 2015, a two-month international exposition, featuring events geared toward the promotion of international arts, commerce, education, heritage, and more in Philadelphia. Mudambi said papers were submitted to the conference from all over the world, including from: Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States government, the United States Federal Reserve, and more.
Mudambi’s ongoing iBEGIN initiative is a collaborative effort with professionals in centers around the world, including: Denmark’s Copenhagen Business School, Italy’s Politecnico di Milano and University of Venice Ca Foscari, the Indian School of Business, Henley Business School at the University of Reading (UK), and many others.
The next research project on the horizon for Mudambi and his globally dispersed research team involves battery power, a progression of yet another long-running iBEGIN segment on renewable energy and sustainability. The team has documented the important role that emerging economies like China and India are playing in the innovative landscape of the wind turbine industry, but batteries are the key to unlocking the potential of these renewable energy technologies.
“Batteries are the steam engine of our age,” Mudambi said. “We have ways to produce energy, but we have no way to harness it and store it. Today, if we had to run our planet on stored battery power, we could run perhaps 1 percent of our power applications. Imagine if you could run the whole planet on batteries. It’s a problem that, once solved, will revolutionize society.”
–Christopher A. Vito
Undeniably, there is a significant amount of time and effort that goes into creating a competitive research proposal that is well received, positively reviewed, and ultimately funded. The drive to be successful is a quality that is innate to Temple University’s Fox School of Business, and Dr. Zhigen Zhao, Assistant Professor of Statistical Science, is a prime example of this ethos. Zhao recently received a prestigious Big Data grant from the National Science Foundation, and expects that the findings from his research will help to revolutionize the way that data is analyzed in modern statistical investigations. From the results of these investigations, Zhao expects that the research will have applications in numerous areas, from elements of microarray gene experiments, to next-generation sequencing, satellite remote sensing, and even to yearly academic progress reports.
Dr. Zhao explained the challenging concept through its relation to a traditional pastry, “Take the Chinese dessert “sesame ball”,” Zhao said. “When putting a certain number of sesames on the surface randomly, packing theories will provide us with a distribution of the distance between every sesame seed”. In the study sponsored by NSF, this mathematical method, known as “geometric packing”, will provide the distribution of the distances between points of information.
“The most interesting, but also most challenging problem in big data analysis, is that the number of features grows dramatically concurrent to the evolvement of modern technology,” Zhao said. However complex the research may be, Dr. Zhao and his team are optimistic, and excited, to embark on the quest in hopes of redefining computational sequences in data and information systems.
The ultimate goal of this research is to achieve significant developments that will be utilized not only for Big Data interests, but also made publicly available for use by others. For example, by integrating a solution into software applications designed for mass-market consumer use, this project will truly exemplify the idea of research with a broader impact. Through these efforts, Dr. Zhao believes his research will be an example of how to successfully address Big Data challenges to the benefit of multiple stakeholders.
Sarah Diomande, SMC ‘18
One of the first-established academic departments at Temple University’s Fox School of Business is getting a new name, and is set to introduce a new undergraduate degree program.
The Fox School’s Department of Statistics will soon be rebranded as the Department of Statistical Science. Additionally, the department will unveil a Bachelor of Science degree program in Statistical Science and Data Analytics. Both changes are effective for the 2016-17 academic year, following the approval in March by Temple’s Board of Trustees.
The department had been known as the Department of Statistics since its establishment in 1929, 11 years after the founding of the Fox School.
“Rebranding our department as the Department of Statistical Science reflects the breadth of our department’s academic research, the discipline’s changing landscape, and our department’s renewed focus on engaging in quality research that reshapes the field of statistics and to train new generations of statistically skilled graduates,” said Dr. Sanat K. Sarkar, Chair of the Department of Statistical Science.
The new department name, Sarkar added, is reflective of the discipline’s evolution into one that “develops newer subfields and its interdisciplinary research with scientists in modern scientific investigations involving complex data.”
In Fall 2016, the department will launch its Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree program in Statistical Science and Data Analytics. The demand for the program, said program director Dr. Alexandra Carides, has been driven by the proliferation of computing technology, software, and statistical tools for capturing and interpreting the substantial volume of data now available at the enterprise, government, and personal levels.
The program will qualify students for professions in some of the fastest-growing job sectors, according to Carides.
“The program will provide undergraduate students with the ability to select, utilize, and apply quantitative reasoning and data analytic skills to their future field of study,” said Carides, an Assistant Professor of Statistical Science. “Knowledge of statistical theory and methods has become increasingly important to students in many disciplines. As more data are collected, stored, and analyzed, students are finding it increasingly beneficial to gain expertise in statistical science to strengthen their skills and enhance their career opportunities.”
Dr. Aubrey Kent, Chair of Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) and founding director of Temple’s Sport Industry Research Center (SIRC), is the winner of the 2016 North American Society for Sport Management Garth Paton Distinguished Service Award.
The award, the highest service honor within NASSM, recognizes a member with outstanding dedication to the promotion and growth of the sport management industry. Kent, a NASSM member for more than 20 years, credited the organization for providing him with exceptional mentors, including Paton, for whom the award is named.
“Garth was one of my mentors and a dear, dear man. It is special to receive this honor,” said Kent, Professor of Sport Management at STHM.
Kent’s commitment to the NASSM is strong. A past president of the organization, he helped establish the Janet B. Parks NASSM Research Grant, awarded at NASSM’s annual conference, as well as the Commission of Sport Management Association (COSMA) inaugural board of directors, which is dedicated to sport management education at the collegiate level.
Kent received the NASSM Student Research Award five years after joining the organization as a graduate student at Canada’s University of Windsor. In deepening his NASSM involvement, he served on several student committees and, in 2006, was recognized as a Research Fellow. He followed up that recognition with a highly successful stint as an Executive Board Member-at-large, which included several chairpersonships across various committees.
During his tenure, Kent has served on the editorial board for NASSM’s Journal of Sport Management, the leading academic journal in the field. He also has published more than 10 peer-reviewed articles within the journal.
“NASSM promotes the field, facilitates scholarships, and brings together academics to trade best practice ideas around teaching and research,” Kent said.
Kent will receive the Paton Award this June at the 2016 NASSM conference, to be held in Orlando, Fla.
The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) has awarded Dr. In-Sue Oh a 2016 Distinguished Early Career Contribution Award. This is the second early career achievement award Oh has received, also earning one from the Academy of Management Human Resources Division in August 2014.
“This award has been one of my ambitious career goals since I started my PhD at the University of Iowa about 12 years ago,” said Oh, a Paul Anderson Senior Research Fellow and Associate Professor of Human Resource Management at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. “I am very glad and grateful that I have fulfilled this goal.”
The SIOP’s award is the oldest and most-prestigious early-to-mid career award in the field of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management. Each year, it is given to a scholar who received his or her PhD within the last eight years and has made influential research contributions to the science of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
Oh will be invited to present reflections on his research accomplishments at the following year’s SIOP conference to be held in Orlando, Fla. At the conference, Oh plans to share his current work, as well as discuss how he developed his research program. Since 2005, Oh has researched the validity of personality traits for performance across levels of analysis and criteria, and developing new meta-analysis methods.
“While working on a project on the relationship between personality traits and employee performance about 10 years ago, I realized that the personality-performance relationship must have been underestimated, given serious limitations in how both variables were measured,” said Oh.
Since then, he has investigated various ways to enhance the relationship. In addition, he will also share his personal tips for reaching ambitious goals and maintaining research productivity.
“I’ve discovered that the key to research productivity is persistence, teamwork, and not blindly trusting the data we see,” said Oh. “Data can lie to us without even blinking an eye.”
Oh hopes winning this award will enable him to continue pursuing research projects through the remainder of his career.
“One of my great mentors, Dr. Phil Roth, told me that research as a career is not a sprint but a marathon,” said Oh. “My PhD advisor, Dr. Frank Schmidt, who retired four years ago at the age of 68, is still actively working on research projects. This is exactly where I hope winning this award will lead me.”
Oh credits winning the award to his various mentors, role models, family members, teachers, deans, and department chairs who have offered support and guidance throughout his career. He also credits his fellow scholars, journal editors, reviewers, more than 70 co-authors, and Schmidt, in particular, for nominating him for the award, and five letterwriters in support of this nomination.
“I truly hope that winning this award will contribute to further elevating the research profile of the Human Resource Management department, the Fox School of Business, and Temple University as a whole,” Oh said.
The Fox School of Business at Temple University adds to its growing number of endowed chairs and professorships with the creation of the Jerome Fox Chair in Accounting, Taxation, and Financial Strategy.
This distinguished chair was created through a $2 million gift from Saul A. Fox, SMC ’75, in honor of his father, Jerome Fox. The late Jerome Fox was a World War II veteran, a certified public accountant, and the founder of the former Philadelphia accounting firm Gelrod Fox & Company. This chair is to be held by high-level practitioners of accounting, taxation and financial strategy, who hold the same zeal for these areas of academic focus as Fox did.
“My father was an accountant by trade, but he viewed a position as a high school history teacher as perhaps his highest calling,” Saul Fox said. “Though he chose a different career path, my father equally valued the accounting industry and the role of education in our society. The establishment of this distinguished chair at the Fox School of Business melds my father’s two lifelong passions and honors his memory as a successful accounting practitioner.”
Following an extensive global search, Dr. David E. Jones in July 2015 was appointed an Associate Professor of Accounting at the Fox School and the inaugural holder of the Jerome Fox Chair in Accounting, Taxation, and Financial Strategy.
With more than 35 years of public accounting experience, Jones has worked with Ernst & Young LLP as a tax partner in Atlanta, Orlando, Indianapolis and Cleveland. He became the U.S. National Tax Leader and Global CEO of the GEMS (Global Mobility) Tax Practice at Ernst & Young. He has significant Big Four managerial leadership and global tax experience at Ernst & Young in the U.S. Jones has served large SEC tax clients, individuals with high net worth and entrepreneurial ventures.
Jones, who has presented at regional or national conferences, conducts behavioral research on tax professionals, and legal tax research, especially on international and domestic tax topics. His research explores issues that impact taxpayers and tax professionals as well as tax policy matters of importance. He has published in academic and practice oriented journals.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Auburn University, a Master of Taxation degree from Georgia State University, and a Doctor of Management degree from Case Western Reserve University.
Saul Fox will visit Temple University’s Fox School of Business Wednesday, Nov. 18, for a Jerome Fox Chair Talk and Reception event, to be attended by Dr. Neil D. Theobald, Temple University President, and Dr. M. Moshe Porat, Dean of the Fox School.
In his course “Law in American Society,” an animation of folk singer Willie Nelson, designed by Dr. Samuel D. Hodge, strums his guitar as he explains the difference between public and private law.
Professor of Legal Studies at the Fox School of Business, Hodge’s use of such animations demonstrates his place as an innovative educator. Hodge recently was chosen by the Academy for Teachers to serve as its 2016 master teacher and will lead a program on innovation in teaching.
The Academy for Teachers is an annual selective conference in New York City that’s intended for teachers. One master professor, as chosen by the Academy, leads a lesson for a number of selected high school teachers on innovative strategies in teaching. Previous master teachers include Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and historian Henry Louis Gates Jr.; Pulitzer Prize in Music winner David Lang; and renowned social and political activist Gloria Steinem.
This year, Hodge will teach 18 high school teachers Jan. 8, 2016, at the one-day conference.
Hodge has taught a variety of undergraduate- and graduate-level classes in law and medicine at Temple University for more than 40 years. He currently leads a law lecture that consists of 400 to 600 students, which is considered one of the largest courses at Temple. To keep students interested in a class of that size, Hodge has had to get creative.
“You have to throw conventional wisdom out the window,” Hodge said.
Hodge developed multimedia presentations for his courses, consisting of self-created animations.
“Everything moves. Everything I say projects behind me on the board,” Hodge said, “but I actually have a cartoon Professor Sam, and he sings and narrates.”
The animations include a long list of celebrities. His latest is actor Jack Nicholson discussing various areas in law. Hodge has an art and music background. Since 1982, he has owned music-publishing company Eastwick Publishing, and he’s also produced illustrations for various medical books he’s written. So it was fitting, he said, that for his educational animations he’d write the songs, record the audio, and then create an animated character to perform them.
The best way to gain the interest of the “MTV generation,” he said, was through an audio-visual format.
“I call it edutainment,” Hodge said. “It is a combination of education and entertainment. People grew up in a visual format, so people want to be taught in that format.”
From a nominated group of 6,000, the Academy for Teachers selected 18 high school teachers that Hodge will educate. The “master class” can be given in any subject matter. The focus is to showcase unusual or innovative teaching techniques. Hodge will teach anatomy to the group of teachers in his area of expertise: AV format.
On the morning of the program, Hodge will teach the fundamentals of anatomy through song at the Museum of Natural History. He also plans to show the dozen-and-a-half teachers video of a heart being dissected. During the second segment of the day, the group will travel to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he will take them into the lab to see a dissection first hand.
Joe Pangaro, a second-year teaching assistant in Hodge’s “Law and American Society” course and “Legal Environment of Business” courses, said Hodge’s passion for teaching is present daily.
“Every year, when a new set of TAs gets to know him and gets exposed to his workload, there is a period of shock when you are just in awe of how much he accomplishes in a day,” said Pangaro, a third-year law student. “When you find out he does not drink coffee, it seems all the more amazing, but then you spend some time with him and you realize it’s because he truly loves everything he is doing.”
Hodge hopes to impart to the high school educators a degree of fearlessness in their use of technology to demonstrate complex topics.
“This was a total surprise,” he said. “I didn’t apply for it, they just called me out of the blue one day. Then I saw the list of people who have been selected before me and I said, ‘Why am I within that elite group?’ But I am, and it’s exciting.”
Domino’s Pizza has cultivated 10 million Facebook followers. Target’s page has collected 20 million. And Nabisco’s Oreo cookie page exceeds 40 million Facebook likes.
Such large numbers demonstrate a shift toward social media marketing and the expanding role of commercial branding in today’s online world, according to Dr. Jay I. Sinha, an Associate Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
Sinha’s latest research publication, “The Risks and Rewards of Brand Personification Using Social Media,” which appeared in the Boston Globe and MIT Sloan Management Review, digs into social media’s role in rewriting the consumer-producer relationship for today’s top brands. More than 92 percent of marketers responded in 2014 that social media marketing is important for their businesses, and 80 percent indicated these efforts increase traffic to their websites, Sinha noted.
“Social media marketing is the new big thing,” Sinha said. “It allows a company to stay close to its customers, being responsive, engaging them, and evolving with them through time.”
Tweeting its core values or responding to Facebook comments about a new product gives a company a human-like presence, Sinha said. This personification, he added, deepens consumer loyalty and buyer-conversion rates, or the number of consumers making online purchases. So whether it’s an international company like Domino’s Pizza, or a hyper-local grocery store chain, photographs, hashtags, and followers are a part of the new normative advertising pattern.
“In the past, a satisfied customer typically told three other people, while a dissatisfied customer griped to 11 people,” Sinha said. “Nowadays, each has the potential to tell the entire world – by virtue of being on social media.
The globalization of online marketing, to Sinha, emphasizes the need for well-written, interesting and visually appealing content. He indicates Whole Foods’ strategy on Instagram that focuses on striking food photography with the use of no captions, while Target uses #tbt, or ThrowbackThursday, to promote its 1980s-inspired fashion line.
Sinha notes the line between trendy and offensive, however, can be a tipping point.
“Firms should not regard social media as the space where they can emulate private individuals and espouse extreme viewpoints, launch attacks against business rivals, or castigate those who post negative reviews,” he said. “This is off-putting and unprofessional.”
To diminish the chance for error, using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest as primary social media platforms is enough, Sinha indicated, as many users are engaged with just two or three of those sites. He also urged firms to cultivate the smartphone app market with which millennials, or those between the ages of 18 and 35, are engaged. YouTube, he continued, is a way to corner members of the baby-boomer generation who aren’t as engaged on Facebook or Twitter.
Expanding on social media brand personification, Sinha said he is currently researching the “culture-jacking” phenomenon, which refers to a company’s attachment of itself to a trending topic in order to increase followers. Companies’ successes with this tactic, Sinha noted, is not foolproof, as there are several documented missteps.
“All of this shows that companies need to use social media with proper judgment and planning, and steer clear of topics that may be remotely controversial,” Sinha said.
The inspiration for his co-authored research paper, Brad Greenwood said, materialized rather organically.
“I was in the backseat of an UberX vehicle,” Greenwood said, “and I wrote myself a cell phone note: ‘Call Sunil about writing an Uber paper.’”
According to research by Greenwood and Sunil Wattal, professors at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, the introduction of UberX, a low-cost, ride-sharing service, has led to the reduction of alcohol-related vehicular fatalities in California.
Their research findings have been featured widely in mainstream national and international media outlets, including Newsweek, Fox News, Forbes, Canada’s Globe and Mail, Britain’s Daily Mail, Quebec’s La Presse, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Tech Times, and others. Their working paper, titled, “Show Me The Way To Go Home: An Empirical Investigation of Ride Sharing and Alcohol Related Motor Vehicle Homicide,” is under review for publication in an academic journal.
Uber is a mobile-app-based service through which consumers can call for transportation to and from any destination. The system requires credit card registration prior to usage, which means no physical money changes hands in the transaction. Available in more than 50 countries, Uber’s popularity has soared recently, and an August 2015 report from Reuters suggests that Uber’s bookings in 2016 could exceed $26 billion.
Greenwood and Wattal are believed to have written the first academic paper investigating the effects of Uber on reducing alcohol-related vehicular homicides.
“The issue is timely and fresh. Everyone is talking about Uber,” said Wattal, an Associate Professor of Management Information Systems (MIS) at Fox.
“There was evidence that Uber could be linked to such decreases in fatalities, but the question as to whether it could be tied together rigorously, and under certain circumstances, wasn’t yet known,” said Greenwood, an Assistant Professor of MIS.
Using publicly available data obtained from the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Report System, for a period between January 2009 and September 2014, Greenwood and Wattal analyzed reports that included the blood-alcohol content of the driver, contributing factors like weather, speed, and environmental factors, and the number of parties involved in the accidents. Greenwood and Wattal said they chose to review California’s data because Uber is headquartered in San Francisco, and the ride-sharing service has been available in that state longer than in any other.
In their research, they found that alcohol-related deaths decreased by an average of 3.6-5.6 percent in cities where UberX service, the least-expensive service offered by Uber, is available. They also found limited evidence of change in conjunction with the use of Uber Black, the most-expensive service, which requires a luxury vehicle.
Other findings from the co-authored research paper include:
- The effects of UberX on the number of alcohol-related fatalities took hold, on average, from nine to 15 months following Uber’s introduction to a particular city, “after Uber has built up a network of customers and drivers in that marketplace,” Greenwood said.
- There was little to no effect in periods of likely surge pricing, a system that allows Uber to increase the cost of the services rendered dependent upon the consumer demand.
- There was no effect between Uber and overall deaths, indicating that the entry of Uber is not making roads more dangerous for sober people.
For Greenwood, who has previously studied the societal benefits of technologies, and Wattal, who has researched online crowdfunding and peer-to-peer economies, their research interests overlapped, which made this project a natural choice on which they could collaborate. Unsurprisingly, their Uber research, which was independently funded, has generated requests for follow-up studies.
“We could try to replicate this study in the context of other states to see if the data is robust,” Wattal said, “but that could take considerable time, given that Uber is not available everywhere and that data is not as readily available in other states.”
“The options are endless for this type of work,” Greenwood said.
TD Ameritrade Institutional has awarded a $25,000 grant to Temple University’s Fox School of Business to foster development of a new financial planning degree program, as part its third-annual Next Gen Financial Planning Grants.
Through its Next Gen Financial Planning Grants, TD Ameritrade Institutional hopes to help the registered investment advisor industry remain vibrant for years to come by encouraging more colleges and universities to expand and enhance their financial planning degree programs, increasing the number of graduates produced each year. According to U.S. Department of Education data, roughly 700 students completed bachelor’s degree programs in financial planning in 2013, while only 90 U.S. colleges and universities offered degrees dedicated to financial planning.
“Independent financial planning is one the fastest-growing areas of the financial services business and may offer some of the brightest career prospects in the marketplace, but advisors need more than financial expertise. They need a strong desire to help people and a talent for building strong ties with clients,” Tom Nally, President of TD Ameritrade Institutional, said in a statement. “Schools like … Temple are helping educate and train a new generation of advisors so they can enter the workplace well-prepared for solving real world challenges.”
As part of a broader effort to encourage more undergraduates to pursue financial planning careers, and avert a talent shortage when thousands of baby boomer-era advisors leave the business, TD Ameritrade Institutional also awarded a grant to the University of North Texas, in Denton, Texas, to expand its existing financial planning degree program.
Temple University’s Fox School of Business will launch its Financial Planning undergraduate program this fall. Grant funds will help fund scholarships to attract top-tier students, underwrite a weekly “seminar series” that brings the workplace to campus, engaging financial planning practitioners in the Philadelphia area to speak with students providing insights into the profession’s challenges, trends and potential opportunities.
The Financial Planning major will prepare students for careers in the growing field bearing the same name, which takes a holistic approach to working with clients in order to enable them to identify and attain lifestyle and retirement goals. Students who complete the Financial Planning curriculum are eligible to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) examination upon graduation – a unique feature of the program.
“We are incredibly proud to have been selected by TD Ameritrade Institutional as the recipient of this grant,” said Cynthia Axelrod, Program Director of Fox’s Financial Planning major and Assistant Professor of Finance. “Professionals in this field are in high demand, and this grant will bolster Fox’s efforts to provide highly qualified students that will excel as Financial Planners. “